Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’
By Dawn Treude, Library Assistant, Scottsdale Public Library
This month the Scottsdale Public Library is offering our young patrons Scream STEAM, science with a Halloween twist. With activities like Frankenstein’s Hand, Balloon Banshees and Troll Boogers (don’t worry, it’s liquid glue and starch), we took a departure from typical coding or robotics programs and let simple household items shine as the stars in simple, yet satisfying activities. The results sent happy shivers down my spine.
As the demand for STEM/STEAM programs continues to grow, two responses typically come to mind—delight or fright.
Youth Librarians never tire of engaging with our young patrons, but not all of us have a background in math and science. Figuring out what to do with the kids can be tricky and time-consuming as you study and practice STEM/STEAM activities.
The turning point for me came in earlier this spring when I read an interview in YALS, the journal of the Young Adult Library Services Association, with Shannon Peterson of the Kitsap Regional Library in Washington State about its Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box program, which was funded through IMLS grant. The grant proposal made the point to identify “librarians as co-explorers and community builders instead of experts” when it came to STEM/STEAM participation.
As I read those words a weight lifted off my shoulders. I don’t have a strong background in math or science, but I certainly know how to explore new things.
About this time I’d been preparing for what we call Slimeology. In studying about polymers and slime making, I happened on The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science by Sean Connolly (2008, Workman Publishing). In it, Connolly uses everyday items to create catchy-sounding experiments, like Frankenstein’s Hand, which simulates a gloved hand coming to life under an acid (vinegar) and base (baking soda) mixture. This was the activity that inspired Scream STEAM.
Once I had a theme, it wasn’t too difficult to find other experiments that could be tailored for a Halloween program. I used the Balloon Banshee (a lesson about friction and sound) from Connolly’s book, re-named Slimeology to Troll Boogers and discovered a fantastic dip-your-hands-in-it blood tray that I christened Werewolf Blood from the I Can Teach My Child website. I wanted to do a candy dissolving experiment as well, but thankfully the Youth Services Coordinator and STEM/STEAM Librarian reigned me in a bit and helped me design a workable forty-five-minute program.
We started with Frankenstein’s Hand because I knew the kids would enjoy it through the entire program. I prefilled cups with the vinegar and the baking soda in the latex glove. The kids then placed the glove over the mouth of the cup, shook the fingers and waited for the hand to come alive. I used this time to talk about chemical reactions, acids, and bases and share some facts about sodium bicarbonate.
Next, we moved on to Werewolf Blood (I chose the name due to how closely related humans and werewolves are). I’d hydrated the water beads (from the floral department at Michael’s) the night before in a large plastic tray. The beads have this fantastic soft, slimy feel to them and shimmer in the right lighting. These were the red blood cells. We added white blood cells (ping pong balls) and platelets (small foam rectangles) and renamed the leftover water in the tray plasma. The kids had a blast running their hands through the mixture but I didn’t manage to convince everyone it really was Werewolf Blood.
After cleaning our hands, we moved on to ghost lore with Balloon Banshees. Most of the kids had never heard the word banshee before and were interested in this Irish lady specter, but I did modify the facts slightly and said she signaled bad news, rather than death. This experiment uses only a balloon and a small hexagon nut but does require adult-level balloon blowing skills. The nut is placed inside the balloon and it is blown up. Then you grab it from the tie end and move your hand in a circular motion and wait for the shrieking to begin. The friction as the sides of the nut move along the inside of the balloon produces an eerie sound. The rate of motion effects the sound, so the kids were able to try a variety of speeds. We had a few balloons pop and rather than cause a fright, that served to increase the excitement level.
Before we moved on to our last experiment, we checked on the hands to see if they were still alive. They were.
By far the best experiment in terms of interest and ick-factor was Troll Boogers (Slimeology in disguise). The experiment failed. I’d poured too much water in the mix, resulting in a blob of glue and starch boogers in a watery soup. This gave me a great opportunity to talk about mistakes in the lab and how important they are to learning. The kids still had a blast with their creations and delighted in picking the right color to add to the mix based on the type of troll whose boogers were in your bowl. (For example, Garden Trolls have green boogers.) The kids loved all my snot and booger facts. The most expressive looks and groans came when I held up my one-quart pitcher as a visual aide to demonstrate how much snot your body produces in a day. We talked about polymers, liquids and solids as well. Everyone’s hands were filthy with sticky goo and I don’t think I’ve seen a happier group.
My takeaway from this program is that there is definitely a place for a variety of STEM/STEAM programs in the library. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean boring, and for systems or schools without the funding for robotics materials, household science packs a big punch in terms of payoff for children to see, feel and understand. Adding a seasonal or pop culture theme can create more interest and draw bigger attendance. The response was positive enough that we’re creating another seasonal program this February, You Gotta Have Heart.
Dawn Treude is a Library Assistant in Youth Services at the Arabian branch of the Scottsdale Public Library in Scottsdale, Arizona. She enjoys creating themed programming for youth of all ages and has been known to create wizard wands and lightsabers when the need arises.
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Libraries across the country are celebrating Halloween with spooky stories, devilish decorations, and clever costumes. Some are even adding an educational twist to the festivities through the use of enriching Halloween STEAM activities.
What is STEAM?
STEAM is an acronym that stands for the integration of an A for the arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning. STEAM activities help equip kids with essential 21st-century skills that will help prepare them for the job market. The creative arts component — the “A” — in STEAM activities can engage students and spark interest in science and technology. STEAM is especially useful for helping students develop skills that are necessary to prepare for creative industries, including digital games, software, design, and marketing. However, research reveals the importance for all employees, not just those in creative industries, to demonstrate creativity in the workforce.
Libraries to Inspire You
Are you working on a STEAM Halloween project and need a little inspiration? The libraries below caught our attention for adding STEAM to their Halloween.
Today (October 26), middle school and high school kids will be creating 3D pumpkins from 3:00 to 5:00 at the main library. Sarah Butt, the library associate we contacted at the Champaign Public Library in Champaign, Illinois, explained that she created a pumpkin template in a program called Sculptris. The kids are then able to use the tools and create faces for their pumpkins. Once they are finished, the files can be printed on the 3D printer and ready for the kids from the middle school next door to pick up.Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL):
SMPL (Yes, the very same library we blogged about that has a summer beach library!) is also holding STEAM events at their Ocean Park and Fairview branches.
Also today, in connection with Star Wars Reads, SMPL’s Ocean Park branch is holding a Star Wars STEAM program from 3:30 to 4:30 for kids and teens. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes at the event.
Youth librarian Julia Casas, who is coordinating the event, has planned several activity stations that will give kids the chance to explore science concepts at their own pace. Among the activities are an “Ewok Launcher” (marshmallow launcher), which helps kids to learn about force, motion and gravity, and a “Rescue a Jedi from Carbonite” (lego minifigs trapped inside a baking soda mixture), which explores chemical reactions.
Children’s librarian Jennifer Boyce let us know that on October 31, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., the Fairview Branch will be featuring a program, “STEAM Craft: Glow-in-the-Dark Slime,” for children ages four and up. According to Ms. Boyce, the program will explore science concepts (in this case, chemistry) in a “fun, unstructured way.” Fairview’s Halloween STEAM event is part of their monthly STEAM programs, which in the past have included events such as a DIY Girls Club that focused on creative electronics and a “Build with Minecraft” program.
Children’s librarian Michelle Zimmermann of North Mankato Taylor Library in North Mankato, Minnesota, hosted a spooky science lab for their Halloween STEAM event, which was held on October 20th. The event, for ages eight to 12, was part of a monthly program, STEAM Rollers.
The mad scientists — some of whom had an evil laugh down perfectly — learned how sound is made with vibrations by making eerie sound devices with plastic cups, yarn, paper clips and water. They also made slime to learn about chemical and physical properties and examined how using different ratios changed the composition of the material they were making. The third activity involved making pumpkin lava lamps and dealt with the concepts of polar and non polar molecules. Kids also learned about how oil and water don’t mix. According to Ms. Zimmermann, the lava lamps seemed to make the biggest impression on the young scientists.
More Halloween STEAM Activities
Still looking for inspiration? Below are five spooktacular links you can use to incorporate STEAM into your Halloween event:
- Pumpkin Geoboard
- Pumpkin Optical Illusion
- Batwing Challenge
- Witch-Inspired Salt Crystal Science
- Spider Web Science
Special Guest Post
And be sure to check back tomorrow for another wicked STEAM/STEM post with featured blogger Dawn Treude. The Library Assistant in Youth Services will explore the Halloween activities at the Scottsdale Public Library. She will be discussing how to create science-based projects by using everyday items with a spooky theme.
If you’ve implemented a Halloween STEAM activity in your classroom or library, let us know what you’re doing in the comments section below or tweet us at #ProQuest.
My coworker, Jaclyn Rosansky, and I blogged about unusual things you can borrow from libraries. While researching that post, I came across many libraries that host Halloween costume exchanges. I also read about libraries that hold Halloween parties with ghost stories and spooky decorations. With Halloween fast approaching (and because it happens to be my favorite holiday), I wondered what other spooky things involve libraries. Would I find haunted libraries and, if so, where are they and how many are there? To see what I learned, click on the interactive map below or view it in a larger, presentation mode here: Spooky Libraries.
If you know of a haunted library in one of the states in which I couldn’t find any, please let me know in the comments section at the end of this post. Thank you, and Happy Halloween!
Halloween goes hand in hand with creativity. What better complement to creativity than making a Halloween costume inspired by your favorite books? In honor of all the wonderful works that have displayed in e-readers, sat atop nightstands and rested on bookshelves, I’m inviting you to get creative with a book-inspired Halloween costume this year.
So many of our favorite stories became our favorites because of memorable characters like the Mad Hatter in “Alice and Wonderland” or Mr. “Cat in the Hat” himself. Even comic book superheroes have become popular choices, keeping up with the classic nostalgia. Novels also pose great options, allowing you to think boldly and unconventionally. I know from watching my mom create handmade Halloween costumes for herself and my sister and I growing up that it doesn’t take much to make something that stands out. I’ve seen her transform into Pinocchio, the Mad Hatter, the Bride of Frankenstein, Thing 1 and countless others. All you need is an idea and an eye for replicating from your very own closet. If you don’t want to make your own, there are plenty of low-cost character costumes at your local shop waiting to be worn too. Dressing up in a Halloween costume isn’t just for kids and teens. It’s the perfect opportunity to express enthusiasm for beloved book villains and heroes. Here are a few book-inspired costume ideas that can be made easily and quickly. Happy Halloween!
Mad Hatter (Alice in Wonderland)
While you may think this costume is difficult and time-consuming to make, I can tell you this is not so. Last Halloween (2014), I helped my mom create this costume using only pieces from her closet. We used layering techniques in her clothing to get her the Mad Hatter look. She wore a bright blue pair of tube socks, a black top hat from a previous Halloween costume. And I did her makeup complete with orange eyebrows. How did I give her orange eyebrows, you ask? Eyelash glue, cotton balls, and temporary orange hair spray. I pulled apart cotton balls to create an eyebrow shape, sprayed them in the hair spray and after drying, glued them to her own eyebrows with the eyelash glue. The final result? A Mad Hatter costume that was both cheap and simple to make.
Cat Woman (Based off of the comic book)
Cat-inspired costumes are great because they don’t take much to make. Whether it’s Cat Woman or Cat in the Hat, all you need is some makeup, black clothing and possibly a few accessories. For this costume, a pair of black leggings, a black shirt and black heels or boots can give the look of this superhero. To make cat ears, an old wire hanger bent into the correct shape and a way to attach them could be a clever option. Even a headband with cardboard cat ear cut-outs attached could work. As for the black mask, you can find one at the local craft store or paint one directly on your face with makeup.
The main character of this childhood story was a puppet with a knack for lying. This is another costume my mom made one year, and I was impressed with how well she captured Pinocchio’s essence without spending much or devoting a ton of effort. Once again, my mom raided her closet and found red shorts, an appropriate shirt, and she made her own suspenders. Buttons and felt cut to size gave the right look. A piece of scrap fabric was used for her collar and eyeliner was used to draw on her puppet lines. For her nose? She attached two rubber finger protectors together and wore them on her nose. It still surprises me how well it stayed on!
What book-inspired Halloween costume will you make or wear this year? Share in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.
Happy Samhain? Halloween has a fascinating history as one of the world’s oldest holidays, dating to pre-Christian times. The holiday traces its roots to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celtic people lived around 2,000 years ago in what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France. Samhain celebrated the harvest, and was held on what would be November 1 on our modern calendar. This day was the Celtic New Year’s Day and also the beginning of winter. The Celts believed that on the night before the New Year began, the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. The people gathered their harvest foods and sacrificed animals to share in a communal feast. During the celebration the Celts wore costumes which usually were made from animal heads and skins. Their priests, known as Druids, built huge sacred bonfires to honor the dead.
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend an estimated $6.9 billion on candy, treats, costumes and decorations in order to celebrate Halloween this year. But how did Halloween evolve from a pagan harvest rite to one of the most popular and profitable holidays in the U.S.? SIRS Knowledge Source offers resources to help students and teachers explore the history of Halloween:
Ghosts, ghouls and goblins. Spooky, scary and silly. Halloween is very popular holiday, loved by kids and adults alike. Dressing up in costumes, eating candy and carving pumpkins are all holiday traditions but what about the origins and history of Halloween? Halloween is a shortened version of All Hallows’ Eve and traces back to the 16-century. On All Hallows’ Eve people dressed in scary costumes to ward off the evil spirits they believed appeared that day. The jack-o-lantern has its roots in an Irish legend about a miserly man and the lantern he is doomed to carry for eternity. SIRS Discoverer features fun crafts, simple costume ideas, spooky decorations and holiday history for you to explore this Halloween.